Family Of 5 Laid To Rest

Hundreds Gather In Middletown For Murder-suicide Victims' Funeral

April 25, 2009|By Matt Zapotosky | Matt Zapotosky,The Washington Post

Hundreds of mourners descended on the Frederick County town of Middletown on Friday to mark the deaths of a family of five killed last week in a murder-suicide.

Just after 1 p.m., after a private funeral, cars streamed out of Holy Family Catholic Community's parking lot toward the cemetery at Zion Lutheran Church. At the front of the procession were three black hearses, carrying the bodies of Chris Wood, 34, Francie Billotti-Wood, 33, and their three young children, Chandler, 5, Gavin, 4, and Fiona, 2.

They are to be buried together - mother and daughter in one coffin, the brothers in another and Wood alone in a third, according to Brenda Blank, a neighbor who attended the visitation Thursday.

On April 18, Billotti-Wood's father discovered all five bodies and called police. Wood had shot his wife and children, then slashed their throats and turned a shotgun on himself. He left six notes scattered about the house, one of them detailing his severe depression and financial stress. The family was $460,000 in debt and owned a Florida home that was in foreclosure.

Reporters were blocked from attending the funeral at Holy Family, and nearly a dozen Frederick sheriff's deputies and volunteers surrounded the cemetery to prevent anyone from getting a good look. The most poignant scene came when a stream of cars processed down Church Street amid clanging bells.

On the street, people placed their hands over their hearts as the precession passed, or clasped their hands together and bowed their heads.

"This is a tragedy," said Sharon Sweeney, 43, who had come from the city of Frederick, about 10 miles away. "We're all grieving as a town and as a community."

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